How To Create Brand Guidelines For Your Small Business: Tips and Free Template

What are brand guidelines and why do you need them? 

Brand guidelines is a document that serves as a tool to establish your brands/businesses identity. It helps guide and style your message and appearance when communicating with your target audience. 

What is typically involved in brand guidelines? 

  • Logo 
  • Brand colours
  • Tone of voice
  • Fonts

For example, we would assume that Coca Cola’s brand guidelines include the classic red colour and their OG logo, so when we see the below image, just by seeing the shape and colour, we can already distinguish the brand without knowing anything further.

It’s important to have brand guidelines to not only give internal and external stakeholders a clear picture of your brand, but to also give your business both identity and consistency. It’s important to have a strong brand voice which resonates with your audience and is an essential part of building brand awareness as a way of establishing trust. 

Important things to consider when creating your brand guidelines

As a small business you might not yet have everything together to create your brand guidelines, but having the template is a great starting point to getting one step closer to discovering and creating your identity. 

1.) Do you have a logo available? 

It’s probably one of the first things you did when you started your business, but making sure you have a logo is a starting point you need before beginning to create your brand guidelines. It will also be a good idea to have your logo available in other colours to suit different backgrounds, e.g. coloured, white and black. 

2.) Have you got the resources to make your creative assets? 

Having a tool to make creative resources is a definite, whether you’re handy on photoshop, Figma or something as simple as Canva (best option for small business who are new to content creation). 

3.) Understanding your audience to a T

Your audience is the most important element of your business, they are the people that keep you running! So understanding their wants, needs and personalities is a brilliant starting point when coming to create your brand guidelines, create your own buyer persona to really understand the people in your demographic. 

How to get started creating guidelines for your small business 

1.) Identify your audience 

Like we mentioned before, identifying and understanding your audience is important, when creating your brand guidelines, be specific. Don’t just say men between the ages of 18-30. Instead break it down more like this: 

  • Single men between the ages of 18-30 living within a 50 mile radius to London, UK. 
  • Interested in women, dating and socialising. 
  • College qualification or higher. 
  • Behaviours: Likely to engage online. 

2.) Breakdown your brand mission, values and personality

Ask yourself...

  • How do you want your business to be presented? 
  • How are you going to set apart your brand from the rest?
  • What do you want your target audience to think of when they see your brand?
  • What values are important to your brand?

3.) Colour palette

Your brand colours are nearly as important as your logo, these will be included across all of your content and external materials you use. 

It’s best to pick four main colours to give a consistent look and ‘feel’. We advise that you pick one darker colour for text, a lighter colour for backgrounds, a neutral and one that stands out. You need to be specific about how to reproduce these colours including either HEX code, or RGB codes. 

4.) Typography 

Another big element to having a consistent brand appearance, usually brands have two main font types for headlines and body. You should include font type, weights and spacing limits.

5.) Logos 

Once you have your logo it's important to optimise its use in different territories for example using a white version on a darker background. Other things to consider: 

  • The colours your logo should be placed over 
  • Sizes and proportions 
  • Colours and variations 

6.) Tone of voice

Ensure you have a consistent tone of voice in both your online channels and ad copy but also in the way you communicate with your customers, identify the voice that reflects your brand and continue across all channels.

7.) Imagery 

Small businesses don’t generally have a large amount of assets at their disposal due to the amount of time it takes up to create them. Try creating a mood board of examples of what you want your brand imagery to look like, do you want to be stock focused? Illustration focused? Find some inspiration and keep it consistent. 


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